I’ve always loved Green Tree frogs. There’s something about those wide froggie smiles that is eminently adorable. When the Muppet hero Kermit came along there was no going back for me. It’s been a life-long romance.The Green Tree frogs are endemic to these parts. Ever the opportunists, on warm summer nights they stick on windows with little suckered feet, preying on unwary insects attracted to the light. They colonise showers and toilet cisterns, singing a lusty nightly chorus and would have to be the most endearing little creatures you can share home with.
Last summer after deluge of rain that lasted some days, the large storm water drains opposite my daughter’s house filled to the brim. These are not the concrete culverts you would find in the city, but rather, large pond-like structures to capture the huge water run-off we experience in the wet season. Because of the proximity of the beach they have sandy bottoms and when dry through the winter, native grasses flourish in them.
Not one to miss an adventure opportunity, I took my grandchildren tadpoling. Until then they’d never experienced the joy. We gathered glass jars, nets, sieves and a gang of neighbourhood children (all under seven years of age) and headed for the pond which was teeming with ‘taddies’.
The girls were fearless, wading straight in, shoes flung aside, dipping their nets and tipping their catches into the jars like they’d done it all before.
The boys took a little time to get over the ‘gross’ squelch of rotting vegetation between the toes, shouting ‘watch out for monsters/sharks/stingrays/pirates!’ None of which was even a remote possibility but made for some delicious squealing and mock terror displays.
Some young teens on their way to fish in the nearby creek, identified the tadpole varieties for us. It’s important you see, not to propagate pests like the introduced Cane Toad tadpoles because of the enormous threat they pose to our wildlife.
A few curious parents joined in saying they hadn’t been tadpoling since they were kids. Others weren’t quite so enthusiastic, voicing concerns as they hovered, about water quality, water borne diseases, dangers lurking beneath the surface and so on. All valid points, but I swear I could their rotors spinning.
It made me appreciate how much freedom I had as a child, and the joy we found in simple things.
Later, the tadpoles were re-homed in fish tanks bought especially for the purpose. Some were gifted to school for the children to monitor and learn about the amphibian life cycle. I took mine home to my garden pond where I watched over them like a hovering parent until they grew legs and disappeared (a bit like children). I fervently hoped they’d find a home in my tiny garden.
A few days after our tadpoling adventure the ponds drained and dried up. All remaining tadpoles (mostly the cane toads one hopes) died a desiccating death in the hot sun.
That was last summer. I’ve not heard a croak from any of those little frogs I saved from a certain death – until last night.
In the dark humid evening a new voice lifted in song. It came from the water-well under a potted Boston fern. I’m holding my breath until I can identify it but – be still my beating heart – I think it’s a Green Tree frog!